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What makes students stay? What makes students go?

by: MUN

Financial turmoil? Social coherence and equity? Isolation? Collaboration?

There are numerous reasons why students may succeed or ‘fail’ when they begin their career in post-secondary education.

Memorial’s own Dr. Dale Kirby (Faculty of Education) is in conversation with Dr. Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor at Syracuse University about maximizing student retention and success in post-secondary institutions.

Dr. Tinto is actively involved in The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, and more recently in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design program, whose belief it is to develop large-scale pathways to help students succeed.

“We are producing fewer college graduates than ever,” Dr. Tinto says. “In a competitive global marketplace, we need college graduates.”

“Institutions have multiple functions,” he elaborates. “Bigger, larger universities, public or private, do a lot of research. For them, research dollars, research publications, having faculty who do research, is a big part of their standing and prestige. So there’s a great deal of pressure for larger universities that faculty do research. So one could ask the question then, ‘To what degree are those institutions interested in increasing graduation?” –

Dr. Tinto says that increasing graduation requires that faculty have skills in teaching, skills in assessment, ability to spend time with students, and all of that, some would say, detracts from research and publication.

“In that way, institutions have to modify their reward systems to get both in some measure,” he says. “Right now in some institutions it’s all one sided.”

The scholar also states, “Students learn better together.”

Learning communities, like classroom that use co-op programs or project-based learning, they succeed more because they’re working together. Contextualizing learning so that students understand why they’re learning is important.”

Check out the full interview with Dr. Tinto here:

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